EPA predicts drop in waste production.
An estimated 62 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) was landfilled in 1993, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a recently-released 1994 update of its report on municipal solid waste (MSW). The report, Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States, outlines disposal information on a range of waste products and projects recovery rates through the year 2000. It notes that 22 percent of MSW was recovered through recycling and composting in 1993, up from 16 percent in 1990. Of the remaining waste, 16 percent was incinerated.
In all, Americans generated 207 million tons –about 4.4 pounds per person per day — of MSW in 1993.
EPA also estimates that, for the first time, MSW generation per person will decline by the year 2000 to 4.3 pounds per day. Tonnage is projected to increase to 218 million tons, but the agency is assuming the country will achieve a 30 percent recovery rate by that time, reducing the amount of landfilled MSW from 162 million tons in 1993 to 152 million in 2000.
EPA projections for reduced landfilled waste are based primarily on an increase in source reduction through backyard composting. In 1992, 12 states accounting for over 28 percent of the nation’s population had some type of ban on yard trimmings from landfills and, considering existing legislation, that number will increase by 1996 to 23 states, accounting for more than half the nation’s population. The report notes that this is a conservative estimate, and points out that yard trimmings could drop another 15 percent between 1996 and 2000.
In all, yard trimmings generation is projected to drop from 32.8 million tons in 1993 to 22.2 million in 2000, a decrease of 32 percent.
MSW recovery, via recycling and composting, will also have to increase for the EPA estimates to be true. (For the report’s purposes, backyard composting is considered source reduction not recovery) A 30 percent recovery rate is projected for the year 2000, with some products reaching recycling rates of more than 50 percent. To reach the 30 percent rate, recycling of paper product must increase from 34 percent in 1993 to 42 percent in 2000; glass must go from 22 percent to 31 percent; aluminum from 35.4 percent to 46 percent; plastics from 3.5 percent to 8.8 percent and yard trimmings (not including backyard composting) from 19.8 percent to 48 percent.
Product-wise, containers and packaging continue to be the largest category of non-durable goods produced in the municipal waste stream, accounting for 34.1 percent of generation, a number expected to increase to 36.5 percent, or almost 80,000 tons, by 2000.
The report also contains information relating to its three-tiered waste management strategy, including (1) source reduction; (2) recycling of materials; and (3) combustion and landfilling. It offers tips and historical information on management for the variety of waste materials and products.
For more information, contact the EPA Office of Solid Waste, 401 M Street S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460 and ask for MSW Characterization Study (5306).
ITS Program To Help Local Governments
Public Technology Inc., Washington, D.C., recently announced the start of a two-year program that will link Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) research, planning and implementation activities with the needs and experiences of the local government sector. The Federal Highway Administration and other U.S. DOT agencies will fund the initiative.
The national program will explore both new and available transportation technologies and open an avenue of discussion between local governments and other stakeholders in the ITS development and deployment process. Examples of ITS include: automated toll collection, mobile communications systems, automatic incident detection and emergency response, real-time traveler information for auto drivers and public transit users, advanced traffic management surveillance systems, on-board route guidance and navigation devices and collision-avoidance technologies.
An ITS task force, composed of high-level transportation officials who represent some of the largest jurisdictions in the United States, is charged with identifying local government transportation technology issues. It will sponsor a national survey to identify city and county transportation needs, priorities and technology resources. The results of the survey will be used as a basis for developing appropriate communications vehicles and ITS information for local communities. Additionally, a practical guide that will help local governments match needs and priorities with available transportation technologies will be published.
The program will also involve “SWAT” teams, local government ITS experts who will travel to jurisdictions requesting assistance to share experiences and recommend options.
PTI President Costis Toregas hailed the inclusion of local governments in the ITS research. “The promise of ITS,” he says, “cannot be fulfilled until local governments fully understand the benefits of ITS and see a clear way through which their day-to-day transportation needs can be met.”
The program will be conducted under the auspices of the Urban Consortium, a network of the nation’s 50 largest cities and counties. For more information, contact Robert Hicks, ITS Program Director, (202) 626-2465.